Canada’s Oldest Rape Shelter Loses Funding After Campaign by Trans Rights Activists

The campaign against the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter saw a Supreme Court case, vandalism, and dead rats nailed to the door of the shelter.

The city council of Vancouver this week voted to withdraw its funding from Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, which has helped victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault since 1973. The shelter currently serves 1,200 women and children a year.

In March of 2019 the city voted not to renew an annual grant given to the shelter if the shelter did not make all of its services available to transgender women. On Wednesday of this week the city council made good on that threat and informed the rape shelter that it would not receive any city funding this year.

The move came after a campaign by trans rights activists to have the shelter closed due to the shelter’s refusal to offer all of its services to transgender women.

Photo Vancouver Rape Relief/Twitter

The shelter makes the argument that they won’t admit transgender women because they take in vulnerable women, many of whom have been deeply scarred by the abuse of men, and that therefore they only accept people who are ‘born female’ in order to provide a safe space for those women.

They also say that should a transgender women contact them will always ensure that person feels safe and secure, and will direct them to shelters which will take in transgender women.

Photo Vancouver Rape Relief/Twitter

The campaign against the shelter saw the shelter vandalised on multiple occasions with graffiti wishing death on the volunteers of the shelter and, on more than one occasion, a dead rat was nailed to the door of the building. During this campaign the shelter remained an active rape crisis centre.

The shelter had previously been taken to court by a transgender woman. In 1995 Kimberly Nixon took the shelter to court for refusing to take her on as a volunteer. A tribunal found in Nixon’s favour but the fight went all the way to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, which ruled in favour of the shelter.

Photo Vancouver Rape Relief/Twitter

The shelter says that they will continue to provide services to women who have suffered from violence from men, and that they are extremely disappointed in the message the decision sends to the women who seek out a women-only group as part of their resistance to male violence.

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